Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dennis, Cape Cod : featured library resource for September 2015

Are you aware that our Genealogy Room has dozens of volumes of histories and records for Cape Cod towns?  In honor of one of our newest library volunteers, Katharine Reid Peace, this month we feature one of those treasures.  Dennis, Cape Cod : from firstcomers to newcomers, 1639-1993, was written by Katharine's mother, Nancy Thacher Reid.

This hefty volume, weighing in at almost a thousand pages, was published in 1996 by the Dennis Historical Society.  The history of Dennis is presented in seven chronological periods:
  • The Firstcomers, 1638-1691
  • Wars and whales, 1691-1763
  • New country, new town, 1763-1815
  • Citizens of the world, 1815-1865
  • Steam, wind and fire, 1865-1900
  • Wars, wind and more fire, 1900-1945
  • The Newcomers, 1945-1993
Each of these sections consists of between 9 and 17 chapters.

Although I did not read the complete volume for the purposes of this review, it makes delightful, informative, and compelling reading.  Here are some of the passages that caught my attention: agricultural and marriage practices of the native Indian populations, the arrival of the Quakers, the life of minister Josiah Dennis after whom the town is named, local son Reuben Hall being captain of one of the vessels raided in the Boston Tea Party, the development of the salt-making business after the Revolutionary War, and the fire of May 1900 that destroyed several homes and threatened the entire village.  The degree to which the history of the town is caught up in wars (with the Indians, the French, the British, the South, and Europe) is striking.

This impressive work of scholarship is worthy of study by anyone interested in the history of the town of Dennis and of the Cape generally.  It is rounded out by appendices covering colonial documents and lists, Dennis citizens in military services, and a number of post-colonial town documents.  Extensive notes cover the text and illustrations.  A select bibliography and an index covering both names and subjects enhance the usefulness of the volume. We hope you will come enjoy this and other resources at the Society's Genealogy Room in Dennisport.

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